Jean-Baptiste Rukundo, a journalist with Rwanda Broadcasting Agency sealed his love for Angela Alford Haizel Rukundo on the 22nd of September 2012 a year after they had met.
Although they were from two different backgrounds and had grown up in different continents, that was never an issue for the couple. The Rukundos shared their love story with Sunday Times’ Donah Mbabazi.
How did you meet your wife?
We met at Nkurunziza church in town, she had come to visit but wanted someone to help translate and I volunteered, that’s how we became friends even when she went back to UK we kept in touch. She later came back in 2012 on a volunteering job that was in March 2012; we met again and agreed to start an exclusive relationship.
The proposal, how did you do it?
I don’t remember if I knelt, I could have laid on the floor, what I know I was not sitting (laughs) but she was so happy, going back to the UK was so hard for her because she felt like she was starting another chapter of her life.
What attracted you to her?
Angela is one of the kindest people I have ever met; and she is like that to all people, my friends can testify to this. She is such a caring person, starting with her husband, her son and the family. With her, I saw love, care and kindness.
Was your family okay with you marrying a white woman?
My family had no problem in fact they welcomed her with both hands, Angela is such a darling, my mother had to cry on our wedding day when Angela gave her a gift, she was so happy for us.
How do you manage the time apart as a couple since your wife does not stay in Rwanda?
We always keep in touch, when she conceived she had to come to Rwanda and only went back when she was about to give birth. I went there one month prior to the birth of our son.
I don’t think an hour can pass without us communicating, even when am going to cover a story that requires me to leave the phone behind I inform her before I go.
It’s sometimes hard especially when I for instance watch a video of my son doing something, I long to be close to them but we are working on it.
On your wedding day, what stood out for you?
It was how happy my mother was on that day, she saw how much people had come to attend our ceremony they were so many and so happy. The day was a bright one for all of us; my mum became so emotional and cried. I was happy too because I had made her proud.
What’s that one thing you want your family to have?
A good husband and father, because of the environment I was raised in with my parents constantly arguing most of the time I grew up with a bias on marriage but what happened or still happening with some other families today, I wouldn’t want to witness that. I want to give my family a different story.
Advice for those getting married
People shouldn’t get married for the sake of it, and when they do they should be ready to adjust their lifestyles. Marrying for the wrong reasons can lead to regrets later in life that’s why one should be committed when they take that decision. Getting married could be your dream but the reality of it is different from what we think, it requires a lot of sacrifice.
What makes Rukundo a special man that you chose to marry him?
He is kind, caring, generous and supportive. He takes care of me and his family.
How did he make his intentions known to you?
He told me he wanted me to be his girlfriend and he went through some of my friends to tell me he was serious. One evening he surprised me with a proposal; it was in June 2012 the night before I was due to leave Rwanda, we were alone sharing a meal together and he was answering a list of questions I had asked him, they were about life, his expectations for our relationship, family, career, finances.
It was his turn to ask me, that’s when he presented me with an engagement ring, I was very shocked.
Did you have any concerns about marrying someone with a different background from you?
I think our biggest concern was how we could live together after marriage since we are living in different countries, but I was not concerned about our different cultures.
How did you feel when he took vows to love you for the rest of his life?
I felt blessed and loved. He had chosen me to be his wife and it was amazing.
How do you feel now that you finally have him as your other half?
I am happy! And we have a beautiful son together too.
Your time apart as a couple, how do you deal with it?
The distance is hard and can create problems. We have had to communicate well and listen to each other’s fears and concerns. We use social media to chat and keep in contact as much as possible. It hurts not living together, it’s not easy, and hopefully soon we will all be together as a family.
What principles guide your marriage?
Our relationship has been based on our Christian faith and trusting in God. Living apart is not easy and it takes strength, commitment, loyalty and trust. Without God at the centre of our marriage and without prayer it would be a different story. We are blessed and thankful for everything that we have and trust in what God has in store for us.
Advice to a young woman searching for a soul mate
Don’t rush. Take love slowly. Let the man pursue you, laugh together, have fun together and be sure he’s the right one for you.